2014 Expedition – Day 2
…and attempt #2, as well. I hit a wrong key and everything went *POOF*. >:-(
When you spend hours upon hours cruising at 75 mph on the Interstate, and there isn’t a lot to look at (eastern Colorado and all of Nebraska are pretty flat…), your mind can rot. Or it can come up with some interesting questions:
1. Why does the median width vary? Obviously, there’s hardly any median on an urban Interstate because the land is so expensive – and by now, any median that used to exist has been paved over with an additional lane or three. And in mountainous areas, such as I-17 from Phoenix to Flagstaff, the lanes get built where they’re built because of engineering and cost considerations, which sometimes leads to the opposing direction being on your right instead of on your left as usual. But in flat areas like Nebraska, you’d think there’d be a consistent median width. Nope. Some places had a median that looked like it was about 100 yards wide; other places had what I would call a “normal-width” median of probably 80 feet.
2. In some places as you drive along, you can’t help but wonder, Why did they put the road *here* instead of *there*? (“Here” could be, for example, cutting through the edge of a hill, whereas “there” could be about 300 yards away where there wasn’t any hill at all. I’m sure you’ve seen your own examples over the years.)
3. When the overall planning of the system took place, who decided where the major routes would go? Taking the east-west routes, for instance, only 10, 40, 80 and 90 are coast-to-coast routes (and that’s stretching the definition of “coast-to-coast” because I-40 stops in California at I-15). I-30 is the shortest major route and ends at 20, which in turn ends at 10 in Texas. 70 also ends at 15, in Utah. And 50 and 60 don’t even exist at all. Here’s why: The old US Route system generally has increasing numbers from north to south, meaning that US 50 is north of US 60. The Interstate system was deliberately designed the other way, meaning that I-20 is north of I-10. So at the “edges” of the country, you’d have a low US route number but a high Interstate number. But in the middle of the country, where the numbering schemes would have both had mid-range numbers (e.g., 50 and 60), it was deemed too confusing to have US 50 and I-50 in close proximity. Likewise for US 60 and I-60. A blog I found (http://i50.blogspot.com/2005/12/why-there-is-no-interstate-50.html) says it was decided not to have both route types (US and Interstate) with the same number in the same state. This meant that I-50 could not be in the same states as US 50. To make things simpler, the decision was made not to build I-50 or I-60 at all.
Now to the visual arts:
I saw what appeared to be a wreck looking for a place to happen – except it was the aftermath of a wreck, I think. I saw a wrecker pulling a bent-up Wal-Mart trailer, followed by a tractor-trailer rig, all heading EAST in the breakdown lane of the WESTBOUND direction on I-80. I’m glad I was going east.
It’s also fun (sometimes) to people-watch on the Interstate, to wit:
Rude people. At one of my gas stops, there weren’t many pumps and they were all busy, with several cars waiting. One couple finished filling up their car, LOCKED IT, and went inside – with a car waiting for them to move! They were still inside when I left, having filled the truck, made my log entry, and used the restroom.
Stupid people 1. A big rig failed to move to the left travel lane (it was empty at the time) so a car could merge into the right travel lane from an on ramp. This car, in turn, kept pace with the rig, neither speeding up to get in front of, nor slowing down to come in behind, said big rig – until the on-ramp lane disappeared. THEN the car dropped back and pulled in about 30 feet behind the rig and stayed there until I passed both of them. [smh]
Stupid people 2. I was last in a line of maybe 4 cars behind a rig that was passing another rig. I watched in the mirror as an SUV came up rather quickly (in the left lane), moved to the right lane, and continued at his original speed EVEN THOUGH THERE WAS A RIG AHEAD OF HIM. He finally slowed down shortly before driving under the rig and attempted to merge into the left lane, but all of us already in the left lane were too close together for him to move over. So he had to wait until we all passed him before he could move left and pass the slower rig. [smh – again]
Nice people 1. Shortly before I got into Nebraska, I was passed by a couple riding their Harleys. The guy was all hunched up over his handlebars, but the lady was nice and relaxed, and as she passed me she waved at me! So of course I waved back.
Nice people 2. I stopped at the “Welcome to Nebraska” sign to take a picture, and there was a young couple there. We chatted for a bit and I found out that they were from somewhere in NM, and had driven up to Denver on a whim to see the Mile High Stadium, and from there they had decided to drive to the Nebraska state line on another whim!
Stay safe! I used to tell people that I’d watch out for the other idiots out there on the road, until I realized that by saying that I was saying *I* was an idiot. Since I don’t like to advertise that fact, I now say I watch out for “the idiots” instead of “the other idiots.”